Joanne Forbes, 34

Joanne ForbesDepartment Chair of Art, Design & Humanities
Oakland Community College

Joanne Forbes started teaching part-time at Oakland Community College in 2008 and in 2012, became a full time teacher. Currently, as the OCC Department Chair for Art, Design and Humanities, she oversees the interpreter training program as well as other disciplines at the Highland Lakes campus. Joanne is the only Department Chair in Michigan who is culturally Deaf.

She helped lead OCC's Interpreter Education Program through the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE) accreditation process. OCC is one of five accredited associate degree programs in the nation. OCC was judged under the same standards as a four-year program. This comes at a crucial time where there is a severe shortage of Sign Language Interpreters in Michigan. For each individual graduate, there are three jobs, which continue to go unfilled.

Joanne believes interpreters should operate with the mentality that they work for the deaf community and she highlights this daily in her work at OCC. She strongly believes raising the standards of interpreters in the field also means raising the standards of interpreter education programs. Joanne strives to ensure OCC's program produces the best students, not just with their skill set, but also with their attitudes and ethics in the interpreting field. Joanne appreciates teaching as a rewarding experience and finds satisfaction in the fact she is assisting in producing interpreters who will work with the highest standards possible.

Joanne received her Master’s Degree in Sign Language Teaching from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., in 2013 and is certified by the American Sign Language Teacher Association (ASLTA).  Joanne enjoys researching the history of ASL and its linguistics tidbits. She also invests her time in the Deaf Arts Festival, focused on spreading the awareness and enrichment of deaf culture to deaf and hard of hearing children through the Arts, notably through DeVIA.
Joanne and her husband Sean Forbes welcomed their daughter in June 2015. Her husband Sean is a well-known deaf musician from the Detroit area.


The information presented here was accurate as of January 1, 2017.